This stimulating one-volume history traces the social and economic evolution of France as a nation from the founding of the monarchy in 987, to the present day.
Against a broad background of structural change, Goubert's vivid account of such momentous events as the Carolingean Renaissance, the Hundred Years War, the reign of Louis XIV, the French Revolution, the rise and fall of Napoleon, and the two world wars brings the turbulent course of French history to life. He balances his sharply-etched portraits of Joan of Arc, Louis XI, Louis XIV, Napoleon, and Charles de Gaulle with accounts of their failures as well as their triumphs. He finds much to admire and to criticize in the revolutions and near-revolutions of 1789, 1830, 1848, 1871, and 1968--and provides salient commentary about the political figures of the Third, Fourth, and Fifth Republics.
Goubert's perspective is a popular one and his interpretation emphasizes how historical occurrences and famous individuals affect the nation as a whole. He is most concerned with how events influenced the lives of ordinary people, rejecting theorizing and systematizing of ideas for reliable, undogmatic information about the past. This synthesis of approaches creates a survey which unites broad chronological scope and a detailed examination of the leading personalities and events of the period, with a "history from below" analysis. The combination of rich interpretive approach with Goubert's distinctively animated and forceful narrative makes this an invaluable text for the academic and general reader alike.
An eminent French historian's version of French history from 987 to the present, this compact account is written in a delightfully entertaining style. It's a panoramic view, from the plague to Joan of Arc to Napoleon to De Gaulle. The monarchs are taken one by one, but in general there is more social and economic than political history. With so much compression, there is occasional loss of intelligibility; Goubert genially acknowledges this with short sections given headings like ``Eight Wars And As Many Truces, With Even More Massacres.'' But those who don't know French history will learn a lot, and those who do will enjoy Goubert's comments. Recommended. Nancy C. Cridland, Indiana Univ. Libs., Bloomington